Happy Valentine’s Day from Ulliance, a Wellness Warriors Partner.
Your sweetheart may have the key to your heart, but a proper diet and regular physical activity can be the key to a healthy heart.
This Valentine’s Day, skip the chocolates and indulge your sweetheart with a heart-healthy gift or date. There’s no better gift than helping each other maintain lifelong healthy habits to prevent heart disease and stroke, the nation’s No. 1 and No. 5 health threats.
The American Heart Association recommends 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week to prevent heart disease and stroke.
Here are 14 ways to make this February 14 a sweet and healthy Valentine’s Day.
- Quality timeis one of the most meaningful gifts. Bundle up and take an active mid-winter outing, such as sledding, ice skating or skiing.
- Build a cozy fire. That’s right, chopping and collecting wood counts as exercise.
- Try a new physical activity together like indoor rock climbing or indoor golf lessons.
- Make reservations at your favorite healthy restaurant. Sample a variety of heart-healthy menu items and share a dessert to help control calories.
- Create a gourmet dinner at home with healthy seasonal foods like sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, apples, pears, carrots and winter squash. Try baking, roasting or steaming, and use lean meats and whole grains.
- Add the spice of life, but not the sodium. Pledge to reduce sodium in your meals to help prevent high blood pressure and stroke.
- Roast chestnuts on an open fire. Roasted, unsalted nuts of all varieties are great as appetizers and gifts. You can also add nuts to many dishes, such as green beans with dry roasted almonds.
- Toast to heart health with non-alcoholic drinks.Enjoy non-alcoholic versions of your favorite cocktails or use less alcohol by mixing with sparkling water or sugar-free juices.
- Hit the dance floor.What’s more romantic than taking your sweetheart out for a spin on the dance floor? Even if it’s just around the living room, dancing is a great aerobic activity.
- Walk and talk.Set up regular morning or evening walks together to get in your 30 minutes of exercise while connecting with each other.
- Meditate and de-stress together. Keeping stress out of a marriage isn’t easy, but building in time to meditate together can help keep you focused on the important things in life.
- Roll out your yoga mat side-by-side. Get a beginner’s yoga video or try taking a yoga class together.
- Snuggle up for a nap. Stay healthy through the winter season by getting enough sleep, about eight hours a night, because sleep helps to ward off illness, maintain weight and keep your heart healthy.
- Work out together. Don’t hit the gym alone. Couples can support and motivate each other, and keep each other committed to achieving fitness goals. blog.heart.org
Enhance your well-being with Journal Therapy
Original Source: Huffingtonpost.com The Healing Powers of Keeping a Journal by Barbara Stepko
This article was featured in Wellness Wednesday from Ulliance
Get an injection, down those pills, and follow your M.D.’s advice to the letter: These are all pretty familiar forms of medicine. But if you want to enhance those healing powers, you might also consider something as simple as picking up a pen. Studies suggest that expressive writing (as in, the kind that begins “Dear diary…”) can offer some very real health benefits — among them, helping wounds heal faster, reducing stress and fatigue in cancer patients, and easing the symptoms of conditions such as asthma, rheumatoid arthritis and irritable bowel syndrome.
Journal therapy is all about using personal material as a way of documenting an experience, and learning more about yourself in the process. It lets us say what’s on our minds and helps us get — and stay — healthy through listening to our inner desires and needs. Never been the journaling type? To get started, follow these tips.
Choose your moments. Don’t plan to write every day. When there’s that expectation, the first day that’s missed, all of the air is let out of the balloon. It’s like a New Year’s resolution in that way. For some, once a week is enough; for others, five times a week is just right. There are no rules, but it’s helpful to have a strategy when first getting started to develop consistency — for example, check in with yourself three times a week. The length of time isn’t as significant as the doingness, or the pattern. Set timer for 10 minutes; you can go beyond that or put down your pen. Develop a rhythm, so it can be done, say, three times a week for three or four weeks. Once it becomes a habituated response to stress or management, then the frequency can back off.
Ease into it. Before picking up a pen, try an entrance meditation to transition into a state of mindfulness. Your ritual might be savoring a cup of tea, listening to classical music, trying a few yoga poses or just petting your cat on your lap. It can even be as brief as closing your eyes and taking three deep breaths.
Start scribbling. When some people think of therapeutic writing, they think of free-form (or abstract) writing — basically jotting whatever pops into your head. But when you sit down with a blank piece of paper and no plan or structure, there’s a likelihood that you’ll venture into some not-so-good places. When writing about emotionally difficult subjects, short, structured journal writing works better.
Some tactics to try:
- -Sentence stems: Write down the first part of a sentence, such as I feel the most important thing to do is…; What I want is… then complete each one. Sounds easy, right? It is, and that’s the beauty of the exercise: There is an immediate gratification. If the only thing you have to do is finish a sentence, and you accomplish that, then you feel successful. What’s more, it doesn’t take long to realize that you’re telling yourself surprising and revealing things — and that element of surprise is one of the most healing aspects of writing. Our conscious mind may be driving the bus, but it’s not always in charge.
- -Five-Minute Sprint: Set the timer for five minutes, write down anything that comes to mind, then put the pen down. Use a prompt that you can actively engage in like “How am I feeling?” or “How do I want my day to be?” Five minutes may seem like a ridiculously short amount of time. But when you know that’s all you have, you get busy.
- -Behavior research: Simply put, practice how you’re going to react in a specific situation so when the time comes you’re prepared for anything. No matter what happens, no matter what you’re hit with, you feel competent and ready to handle it. You feel powerful.
- -Springboard: Write a word with one letter on each line (healing, for example), then write open sentences or thoughts that start with each letter. I’m always surprised by the insights that come from working with this goofy structure. Unhook your brain and don’t think about it so much — just let it come.
After each entry, re-read what you’ve written, then give yourself a sentence or two of feedback. Start with “I’m surprised by –” or “I’m aware of –” then use those prompts to help you sum things up. “If you just close the book and move on, that ‘aha’ moment will fade away. This part, aptly named reflection writing, is very important; it can reveal deeper, more profound levels of insight.
One final thing to keep in mind: The more balanced your journal is the better. When you only concentrate on the negative, it doesn’t represent the whole picture. Most healing journals deal with things that are challenging and difficult, but also the sweet, everyday things. Just a bit of light or little moments of beauty from the day to balance out what may be a bleak picture. See your journal — and life in general — as a tapestry. When the threads are woven together, it makes a rich mosaic of bright and dark.
Source: How to Change Bad Habits and Live a Heart Healthy Lifestyle. American Heart Association (2015). Accessed on January 13, 2015 Available at: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/How-to-Change-Bad-Habits-and-Live-a-Heart-Healthy-Lifestyle_UCM_434369_Article.jsp
Learn to form healthy habits by replacing the bad ones. Substituting healthy habits for unhealthy ones rewards you with more stamina, better quality of life – and a healthier you.
That is easier said than done, of course, but some simple tips can help you tackle even the most indulgent and hardest-to-kick habits. Rani Whitfield, M.D., a Baton Rouge, La., family practitioner and American Heart Association volunteer, is on a mission to help people change their unhealthy habits.
“An unhealthy habit is easy to develop and hard to live with; a healthy habit is harder to develop but easier to live with,” said Whitfield, who has earned the nickname “The Hip Hop Doc” through his work getting young people to make healthier choices.
Regardless of your age, you can benefit from Whitfield’s simple habit-changing tips.
First, he says, know that it takes 60 to 90 days to create a new habit. You have to keep after it. If you forget sometimes, or if at first you don’t figure how to make it work with your schedule, keep after it.
It helps to remember that an unhealthy habit is attractive because it gives instant gratification—that immediate “feel good.” But you pay later. On the other hand, a healthy habit means you put off gratification but get a much bigger payoff down the road.
Think of your task as replacement rather than deprivation. Says Whitfield, “Kojak sucked on lollipops because he was stopping smoking,” said of the famous 1970s TV detective. Of course, too much candy is bad for you, too – but a few lollipops is much better than smoking when it comes to your heart health. Whitfield says it’s important to “find your real motivation.” It’s OK and in fact helpful to use another motivation in addition to getting healthier. “A lot of people will do it for their children,” he says. They want to set a good example, or they simply want to live to see their kids graduate. And then there’s good old vanity. “If you want six-pack abs, maybe your motivation is to ask out a certain lady,” says Whitfield.
Here are his top tips:
- Break a big goal into smaller short-term goals. “Don’t go cold turkey,” he says. “Suppose you’re drinking five beers a day, and you want to get down to six a month. Reduce to three a day. You’ll see the benefits and feel more motivated to move toward your longer-term goal.”
- Tell someone you trust – not someone who will sabotage you. Be accountable to someone all the time.
It’s toughest forming a healthy habit if you don’t have support. For example, one spouse might be trying to stop smoking while the other one isn’t. “You have to find some inner strength, some self-motivation and push through it. Or get couples counseling, a safe setting where you can ask your spouse: ‘Can you be supportive and go outside to smoke?’ ”
- Allow a “cheat” once in a while. “If you’ve avoided sweets all week and you’ve been exercising, and you go to Grandma’s, you can afford that ONE small piece of apple pie. Or let yourself have one ‘crazy meal’ a week.”
- Break the TV habit in favor of exercise. “Tell yourself, ‘If I just have to watch Martin Lawrence, I’ll Tivo it and watch on the weekend, or do my exercise and then have the show as my reward to myself.’
“Or, if you have room, you can exercise in front of the TV,” he said. For some, TV seems to be their only friend. “If it’s all about escapism, the underlying anxiety or depression needs to be treated, or if you can’t finish tasks, do your work or the housework,” He says.
He knows it’s tough out there.
“More people are drinking or using marijuana more often to deal with anxiety and depression over family problems or lack of a job, and maybe the inability to relax or to sleep,” Whitfield says. ”They are not understanding that they are making their own problems worse. Alcohol is a depressant; illegal drugs will land you in jail.”
The Hip-Hop Doc’s best habits for heart health:
- Consistent exercise, 30 minutes a day, seven days a week. Read the AHA’s recommendations for adults.
- Quitting Smoking.
- If you currently need medication for a cardiovascular condition, take meds faithfully. “If you forget, put them with your toothbrush.”
Keep at it. Your greatest wealth is your health.
Original Source: Top Health. The Health Promotion and Wellness Newsletter. Ulliance (2014). Accessed on 6 January 2015. Available at: http://www.personalbest.com/TopHealthOnline/ViewIssue.aspx?issue=749
Personal Best – Top Health Online View Issue
If you’ve resolved to shed a few pounds this year, pay attention to foods that can derail your weight-loss plan. You know the ones – the innocent-looking muffin or fruity trail mix with shockingly high calorie counts.
Imagine this: You order a salad and a 16-ounce bottle of apple juice for lunch. It sounds like a light, vegetable- and fruit-packed meal with approximately 200 calories. Look closer: The salad has 60 calories, but the 4 tablespoons of salad dressing add 200 more. The juice is 242 calories, bringing your lunch total to 502 calories. For a salad? You could have easily enjoyed a filling, nutritious meal of chicken, brown rice and salad for the same amount of calories.
It’s easy to pack on calories with foods that are high in fat and sugar. For example, mayonnaise and oil can contain healthy fats, but eat them sparingly – no more than 2 tablespoons each day.
Sugary foods such as regular soft drinks, candy and pastries are easy to over-consume because they taste good, but the calories add up quickly. Always watch your portion sizes of the highest-calorie foods and drinks.
Small changes can help: When eating salad, for example, have the standard serving size of dressing (2 tablespoons), use less oil and more vinegar, or dip vegetables in dressing instead of pouring it over the salad.
Other traps: While it’s obvious pastries, chips and chocolate are calorie bombs, it’s often less clear for good-for-you foods. Granola, cheese, smoothies and nuts can be healthy, but keep portions small to save calories. Always fill plates with vegetables, which are nature’s lowest-calorie foods.
Original Source: Theactivetimes.com Tips for a Healthier (but still enjoyable) Thanksgiving by Katie Rosenbrock
This article was featured in Wellness Wednesday from Ulliance
As a day that revolves mostly around food (and that falls in the center of a food-filled holiday season), it’s only natural that you might feel stressed about overeating or gaining weight on Thanksgiving. Especially if you have weight loss goals or are simply working towards establishing healthier eating habits, instead of an enjoyable day spending time with friends and family, Thanksgiving might feel like more of a battle than anything else. It doesn’t have to feel that way, though. First of all, even if you do end up eating a little bit too much (we’ve all been there before), it’s highly unlikely that one day of overeating can lead to weight gain.
As New York Times Well Blog author Tara Parker-Pope explained in an investigation two years ago, you’d have to eat an almost impossible amount of food to consume more than 4,500 calories, which according to the Calorie Control Council is the (likely overestimated) average amount of calories an American eats on Thanksgiving. Plus, a recent study found that, on average, most people only gain about one pound over the entire course of the holiday season (Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day).
So contrary to what the diet industry might have you believe, there’s no reason to go bonkers stressing over weight gain during the holidays, and especially not over what you eat on one single day. Of course, no matter how many pieces of grandma’s epic apple pie you really want to eat, your health is still important to you and just like everyone else, you definitely don’t enjoy feeling bloated and stuffed to the brim. Fortunately, it’s possible to avoid all of that and have a healthy Thanksgiving without feeling deprived; it’s a matter of enjoying yourself without overdoing it.
I know what you’re thinking, “That’s so much easier said than done.” Right? True. But we’ve rounded up some simple tips that you can use to make sure you’ll enjoy your favorite Thanksgiving foods without going overboard.
Keep up with your exercise routine. Maybe this seems like an obvious piece of advice, but the holidays tend to be a busy time of year, meaning it’s easy to fall off the exercise wagon as your social schedule becomes more and more booked. Just because it is a holiday doesn’t mean it’s an excuse to stop exercising. Staying consistent is key. Do your usual workout so when you are watching football and nibbling on snacks, you’ll feel good knowing you already burned extra calories for the day. If you’re hosting on Thanksgiving Day, put the turkey in the oven and then going for a long morning walk to start the day.
Serve healthy snacks while watching football. Instead of heating up processed, frozen snacks which are high in sodium, provide no nutritional value and are loaded with unhealthy fats, serve a raw vegetable platter with healthy dips or hummus as a healthier alternative.
Drink lots of water. Thanksgiving dinner is typically high in sodium, so drink 8 glasses of water (or more) to reduce the excess water weight and bloat.
Don’t overdo it with drinks. Drink all the water you want, but consuming beverages like wine, beer and liquor in moderation. Excess alcohol adds empty calories and lowers inhibitions. Save those calories for your favorite slice of pumpkin pie instead.
Eggnog probably isn’t worth it. Unless it’s your absolute favorite holiday treat, skip out on Eggnog. Eggnog is extremely high in calories. One cup could have 360 calories and 60 grams of sugar. This is one decedent dessert to avoid all together, unless you’d rather swap it in for a different sweet treat.
Pay attention to portions. Even though your grandma’s pumpkin pie looks amazing and you could eat about three slices, you’ll regret it the next morning. Instead, enjoy a sensible portion or just take a few bites of your favorite foods. This strategy will prevent you from overindulging without causing you to feel deprived or like you’re missing out.
Prepare bigger portions of ‘good’ foods. Leftovers are arguably one of the best things about Thanksgiving; tons of delicious food to eat for days to come. However, it’s a smart idea to make bigger portions of the healthier dishes (think veggies and lean protein) so that when you open your fridge and reach for leftovers you’ll have more nutritious options to choose from.
Eat early. If you can, eat your big Thanksgiving meal as early as possible so that your body will have time to digest before you head to sleep. Try to eat in the afternoon so that the heavy meal will digest long before bed time.
Freeze extra leftovers. Avoid feeling the need to eat all the leftovers in a few days before they go bad by freezing some of them. As an added bonus, your fridge won’t be stocked to the brim.
Enjoy time with your friends and family. The purpose of the holiday is to relax, have fun and spend time with those you care about. The food is important, but not nearly as important as being thankful. Theactivetimes.com Tips for a Healthier (but still enjoyable) Thanksgiving by Katie Rosenbrock
Original Source: Huffingtonpost.com ‘Tis the Season (Again): How to Cope With Seasonal Affective Disorder by John Tsilimparis
What is seasonal affective disorder, (SAD)? Seasonal affective disorder or SAD, is a type of depression that literally follows a seasonal pattern. It systematically appears and disappears at the same time each year. The people who are affected by SAD experience depression-like symptoms beginning in the fall which may continue for five to seven months until spring returns and the days become longer again.
Symptoms of SAD:
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Loss of energy
- Social withdrawal
- Loss of interest in activities that usually give you pleasure
- Increased appetite/Weight gain
- Difficulty concentrating
- Thoughts of suicide (in extreme cases)
One of the reasons why people suffer from SAD is that the decrease in daylight exposure in the fall months triggers the human brain into a kind of cerebral confusion. Hence, the built in human clock, also known as the circadian rhythm, is thrown out of whack. Why this happens is not fully understood but many scientists believe that the role of sunlight in the brain’s production of certain vital chemicals is affected. For example, chemicals that are produced naturally in the body like serotonin and melatonin, which are key elements responsible for regulating mood and sleep.
So, an increase in levels of serotonin occurs when the brain is exposed to sunlight. Accordingly, high levels of serotonin are associated with elevated mood and low levels of serotonin are associated with depression and anxiety. Conversely, melatonin is linked to sleeping and it is produced in greater quantities in the brain when it is exposed to darkness. So, shorter days and less light increase production of melatonin which can cause sleepiness and lethargy. Therefore, more darkness (shorter days) can significantly affect your mood.
Approximately, 1 percent to 10 percent of people experience SAD. It’s most common in older teens and young adults usually starting in their early 20s. The predominance of SAD varies from region to region. The northern countries in the higher latitudes of the world that experience very long winters with limited light are most affected.
Just like many different types of depression, the symptoms of SAD can range from the mild type to the severe type that can be very debilitating. If left untreated, SAD symptoms can impair social and occupational functioning which could snowball into isolation, withdrawal and sometimes, incapacitation. SAD sufferers are known to take more “sick” days from their jobs during the winter months and also tend to see an increase in appetite and an increased need for sleep.
If you suffer from SAD, here are a few tips to help you cope better:
Spend time outside – Get outside as often as you can. Take a walk every day if you are able. If weather allows, take your lunch break in a park or at an outdoor cafe. On weekends, plan activities that will keep you outdoors for as long as you can. The more light you are exposed to the better.
Reach out to a counselor/therapist – Find a trained clinician specializing in depression who can help you examine potentially distressing issues in your life that might be exacerbating the SAD. A counselor/therapist may help you change negative thinking patterns that leave you in a constant state of worry. Perhaps these unresolved emotional issues could be adding to your depression.
Try light therapy – Make your environment sunnier and brighter. Open windows and blinds and remove any exterior obstacles that block sunlight from entering your home. You may also want to sit closer to bright windows at home or in the office. In severe cases, when a great deal of exposure to light is necessary, people buy light boxes and “phototherapy” lamps which they sit under for up to 45 minutes per day.
Exercise – “Move a muscle, change a thought” is a good slogan to remember. Physical activity not only produces endorphins in the brain that make you feel happy but exercise also helps to focus the mind on your body for a change. Remember, the mind cannot be in two places at the same time. Exercise helps to shift your focus.
Consider medication – In combination with talk therapy, anti-depressants can also help to regulate the balance in serotonin and other neurotransmitters in the brain that affect mood and energy. Medication is not for everyone but for many it can be a positive game changer.
Here are a few tips to avoid:
Avoid too much exposure to darkness – Do not stay in bed all morning. Get up at a reasonable time. Do not return to your bed until it’s time to sleep in the evening. Staying in bed too long means you will be overly exposed to darkness and your eyes (as mentioned above) need to perceive light to secrete serotonin.
Do not leave your days unstructured – “The idle mind is the devils playground.” Don’t leave your days unstructured. Don’t be a couch potato. Not having anything to do all day long could make you over-magnify small, insignificant problems in your life that you should not be dwelling on. Your mind needs to be challenged every day.
Don’t blow off your symptoms as unimportant – Never underestimate the power of a mental condition, even if it’s mild. Left untreated your SAD symptoms could escalate and get a lot worse very fast. Don’t neglect your symptoms by trying to plow through your day feeling depressed. It is ill-advised to stay depressed all winter long.
Do not isolate – Isolation from others and not reaching out and asking for support is a disaster waiting to happen. No shame in seeking support and guidance. The more alone you are, the worse the depression gets. Depression LOVES secrets.
Don’t underestimate insomnia – Without a normal, regular sleeping pattern, your circadian rhythm will be off and that can cause more depression. Do not try and wing it each winter day with minimum sleep spells of four to five hours per night. Even if you think you feel rested, your body needs at least six to eight hours per night. Huffingtonpost.com ‘Tis the Season (Again): How to Cope With Seasonal Affective Disorder by John Tsilimparis
This article was featured in Wellness Wednesday from Ulliance
Let’s play a game: It’s Wednesday morning, your inbox has hundreds of unread emails, you’re in a fight with a loved one and you just spilled coffee on your new shirt. What do you do?
A) Scream at the top of your lungs
B) Go on an emotional rant throughout the office
C) Just quit and give up for the day
A better answer? D) None of the above.
It’s safe to say we’re a little less than logical when we’re stressed — and that puts us at risk to make some mistakes. The next time you find your worries spiking, pay attention to these five behaviors (and try some of the alternatives below instead).
Venting to the person next to you.
It may seem helpful to let it out — and for the most part it can be cathartic — but beware of perpetuating the problem. Studies show that stress is a contagious emotion, and soon your stress has become someone else’s, too. A vicious anxiety cycle isn’t good for anyone. Instead, try hanging out with your best friend while doing a few activities you enjoy. One 2011 study showed that quality time with your BFF can help ease your worries.
Making rash decisions.
Ever heard the phrase “don’t go to bed when you’re angry?” Well, here’s another one to file in your rulebook: Don’t make a big decision when you’re stressed. Researchers from Harvard monitored a group of students and found that students who reported high levels of stress were worse at making good long-term choices because their minds were preoccupied. In other words, that important decision about a job or that choice to make a down payment on a house should probably wait until you’re a little more relaxed.
Procrastinating your responsibilities.
We’ve all been there. We get overwhelmed and decide the best way to deal with our to-do list is to just ignore it (bonus points if you’ve used the “I work better under deadlines” excuse). That procrastination habit we create when we’re stressed may feel good at the time — but it’s certainly not helping later on. Pushing off important tasks reinforces the idea that we need that stress in our lives in order to function:
Now people seem to have become dependent on stress to get motivated, to get started, to keep going, to get things done, to feel challenged, to feel excited, to feel busy, to feel important, to find meaning, to feel validated by being in constant over demand. In all cases of adult lifestyle stress that I have seen, procrastination is the essential support. Instead of putting off something entirely, try breaking up your tasks into pieces. Research suggests we work best in 90-minute intervals. Dedicate yourself to your work during those intervals — then give yourself a rest by taking a look at those puppy videos.
Ruminating over every detail.
It can feel natural to dwell on every single hiccup when something goes wrong, but that incessant over thinking could be harming our health. According to a 2013 study, those who ruminate over negative thoughts and emotions are more at risk for depression and anxiety. The study also suggests that our psychological response to the negative occurrence seems to have more of an impact than the actual event itself. If you find yourself obsessing over every detail, try a few mindfulness meditation exercises to get you back to the present moment. Let those thoughts float away.
Stress can wreak havoc on your sleep routine, and the worst thing you can do is to just give into the stress. Binge-watching a TV show until the wee hours may seem like the only way to get your mind off of things, but research shows your glowing screen could be messing with your sleep even more. If you’re stressed and struggling to snooze, try smelling some lavender or even a warm bath. Sweet dreams.
Huffingtonpost.com 5 Mistakes We Make When We’re Stressed | By Lindsay Holmes
Thursday, October 30th
12:00 – 1:00 PM
The David Adamany Undergraduate Library, Bernath Auditorium
Did you know that men live, on average, five years less than women? That they have a higher chance than women of dying from all but one of the 15 leading causes of death? It is fair to say that men are not winning when it comes to their health.
At this session, Dr. Darren Jones will discuss the barriers that keep men engaged in their health and share steps that can be taken to overcome these statistics. This session is for men who want to take charge of their health and the women in their lives that want to encourage them to be healthier.
Register for this event on Training, Seminars, Workshops (TSW) through Pipeline/Academica. Scroll down to the subheading Wellness Warriors and click on the event titled Men: Take Charge of Your Health. Then click on the Sign Up box in order to register for the event.
Receive Wellness Bucks for attending the event by completing your October Wellness Bucks Tally Sheet on the 2014 Wellness Warriors Blackboard organization.